Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Oh yikes this is a fun one. Or not fun?
We’ll see, because I have a feeling this is going to turn into spicy hot takes instead of pet peeves…
Bookish Pet Peeves
Water damaged and/or smelly library books
Listen, I’m not even going to talk about finding food or bodily fluids or bugs in books, because that’s shit’s really gross and pretty much guarantees a library book will be weeded from the collection.
I don’t like checking a book out from the library and having it be stained, water damaged or smell like cigarettes. Before anyone jumps into the comments and cries “bUt liBrArY BuDgEtS”: I’m a librarian (a writer now), and I used to weed stuff. There’s a level of damage that’s acceptable for circulation, but when I personally check something out—particularly now that I’m not a library worker and don’t have access to the ILS—and see damage, I always get anxious that someone is going to reach around to me and charge me to replace the item, especially if I don’t see anything annotating the damage.
And yup—I’ve destroyed my fair share of books with coffee and water (stupid cats, clumsy me), and I roger up for it and purchase a replacement copy (always ask before you do this btw) so it be added in place of the damaged item. And of course I’ve ripped apart weeded books that needed to be discarded or that I was using in a project. Which leads me to my next pet peeve…
The “Save all the books!” matyrs
I swear, every summer some poor school librarian (or public librarian) tackles a massive weeding project that results in years (decades) of outdated, noncirculating or damaged materials being thrown away. Why thrown away and not donated or recycled? Oftentimes the books are damaged or contain outdated material (yes, science books change—even astronomy! You wouldn’t want a book that still has a nine planet solar system, would you? *silence, Pluto lovers*), and/or the policy might be restrictive on what can be done with the books, which are government/school property. Also, recycling can be hella expensive and time consuming and may even violate government/school policy on disposal of property (many recycling centers don’t even take books because of the binding materials).
And every time some misinformed martyr comes across a dumpster of books, they feel this intense desire to “rescue the books” the big mean librarian tossed out into the trash.
Weeding is a process, and book copies are not precious—and even if the book is in good condition and the material is current (think a classic like, Pippi Longstocking), if that copy has an outdated cover, what kid is going to want to read that? And if your library is crammed with old books no kid wants to read (who gives a fuck if it was mom’s favorite as a kid, because mom is not a kid), those books are taking up physical and visual space from books the kid might actually enjoy and check out. Because that’s the goal: checking out books and developing a love of reading.
My general rule of weeding: if the book is old enough to drink, it doesn’t need to be in the collection.
Yes, there are exceptions, but they are just that: exceptions.
Okay, off my high horse.
“EVERYONE MUST READ THESE BOOKS BEFORE THEY’RE” lists
Haha, just kidding. This whole fucking post is a high horse!
I hate those Must Read Booklists, or the master list of the classics, or anything that puts itself out as THE list among lists.
First off, everyone is different and no book list can ever be universal. Second, every list is biased in some way because they come from the very subjective mindset of someone. Maybe it’s a listicle writer, maybe it’s a publishing intern, maybe it’s a motivated booktuber. I don’t care, it’s a person making the list and that person is putting their thoughts, biases and agenda into that list. Second part b is that most of those Top 100 Classics You Must Read Before You Die are chock filled with dead white dudes and token marginalized authors, and pretty much everyone on the list will be a western writer.
Third and most importantly, there is no fucking master list. It does not exist.
Because there is so much information and material out there, publishing across the vast array of written and spoken history that no matter how much you read, you will never read it all and there will always be someone who knows something or read something you have not.
And that’s okay!
Life is short and bleak, don’t force yourself to read someone else’s arbitrarily assembled list.*
Read whatever the fuck makes you happy. Create your own list, and don’t be afraid to deviate or change it. It’s okay if you never read Shakespeare or Plato or Hawthorne or Fitzgerald or Hemingway, I promise.
*Unless you’re in school. In which case, sucks for you. Also, may I present: cliff notes and/or audiobooks?
Ebooks or physical book debates
One, this debate is so ableist it makes my head hurt.
It’s also tied into the book purist/save all the books mentality, and just—just promise me that you won’t be a book Karen, okay? Let people love things and let people do their damn jobs.
Also, ebooks and physical books reduces books down to two formats, when there are so many more to explore and enjoy! Audiobooks! Graphic Novels! Comics! Webcomics! Manga! Braille books! So many fucking types of books!
Having a preference on format is 100% okay, but I think it’s important to remember that preferences are subjective and no one’s preference is better than anyone else’s, especially not when it comes to reading.
Book mail unboxing and/or book crate reveals
These just annoy the crap out of me and I don’t know why. Wait. I do know why.
I’m a crusty person who doesn’t want anyone else to have fun (halfway true).
I don’t want to watch someone else open their mail, it just seems weird to me. But hey, you do you, I’m not going to stop you I’m just going to keep scrolling.
The inherently consumeristic nature of bookstagram
If you haven’t sharpened your pitchforks or unfollowed me know, here’s your chance.
No, I’m not going to be a fucking Karen and tell you not to lay yourself across your opened books for the ‘gram or otherwise damage what is your own personal property. Do whatever you want with it—I don’t care (books are not precious, remember?). Take the pictures you want. This is just one grumpy person’s grumblings.
Bookstagram has always been about the aesthetic, but the aesthetic is about quantity and increasingly (to me)…what that quantity contains. Sure, you have flair, but do you have the right flair? The fairy lights, the BOTM copies, the owlcrate copies with the sprayed edges, the funkos, the books everyone else is reading? Perfectly matched sets?
Again, I’m not saying this is bad. It’s not. I’m not going to sit around and tell people what they can’t spend money on (also, my shelves are chock full of books too, which are such a delight to move), but I am annoyed by the seeming lack of unexamined privilege and the seemingly increasing pressure of “Keeping up with the Joneses” in terms of bookstapopularity.
No moral high ground here, it’s just something I think about a lot (and something that made me pause and reexamine my bookstagram, how I engage and who I follow), particularly when I stumble across a tweet asking about how to get free books if you’re absolutely broke and/or without a home and someone blithely replies “Just use NetGalley!” or “Start writing reviews and then ask the publisher for advance copies!” And if you’re thinking, “Laurel, this never happened,” check this thread. And when I see five unboxing reels in a row because those things really irk me.
I do not want to watch someone rip open a cardstock envelope!*
Why is this a thing?
*okay, small caveat—I love watching authors unbox stuff because they are seeing something they have spent years working on in physical form for the first time and that is so special.
“Underhyped” book lists that are filled with very popular books
Okay, after all my bashing over book lists and bookstagrammers, I have something to admit: I love curated book lists (and I love bookstagrammers too!).
Not the false-mandatory book lists of books every twenty-somethng must read (what, my 34 year old ass can’t read that book? pffft), but curated and themed book lists. I love discovering new books! It’s why I joined wordpress and the book blogging community and bookstagram!
Wait—are you having emotional whiplash after all my venting? People are complicated, okay?
However, if I’m seeing a curated list of underhyped books and it’s filled with popular shit, I’m going to give that list a nasty side-eye. Like: “Here are some of my favorite underhyped sapphic books!” and either Evelyn Hugo and One Last Stop are listed.
I’m just going to say it: if the book has been in a subscription box or featured in a celebrity book club, it’s not underhyped. Also, if it’s often taught in high school lit classes, it’s not underhyped.
Assholes and YA
This one is kinda twofold but not really. There is an argument over adults reading YA. Again, I’m of the mindset that a person can read and enjoy whatever the hell they want. There are bajillions of people who literally only read James Patterson and David Baldacci, so if someone wants to read only YA, go for it.
However, adults who need to read YA (I am one of them) need to remember some things. YA is meant for and geared towards teenagers (the actual young adults), even though there is a disturbing number of YA written as YA but really marketed for an adult audience. That means that adults need to be cautious in entering YA spaces, not because of being creepy or whatever, but because teenagers need to have spaces just for themselves. There are lots of adults who read YA, that means we don’t need to join teenage book clubs. Also, remember that the YA love interests are underage (or immortal, which is a whole other grievance lemme tell ya), and while they are entirely fictional, just think on it.
And lastly, fellow adult readers of YA, remember that characters doing dumb shit that seems childish or illogical or read younger or whatever…we did dumb shit as kids, too, and that these books are geared towards teenagers and children. They are not marketed towards us. It’s okay to be frustrated, we just have to remember that the intended audience of the book is not supposed to be us.
Also…sex in YA? *chuckles in Mercedes Lackey*
We had no fucking YA (not a whole lot anyway) when I was a kid. It was either juvenile or adult and you leveled up quick. So just remember that dog-earned copy of Flowers in the Attic next time there’s a fade to black sex scene.
That damn “turn to page 17” bookstagram reel prompt
The cough/sniffle he does just sends me through the roof. Blame it on my misophonia. We have the technology! Edit that thing out!
Again, I’m not going to judge people who use the meme or whatever the hell it’s called. I’m going to scroll past as fast as possible before the sniffle comes on. Unfortunately, I have an iPhone 6 so it’s generally not fast enough.
People who refuse to DNF
LIFE. IS. SHORT. AND. BLEAK.
Read whatever the fuck you want.* There is not master reading list. Read for fucking joy and put a book down without shame if you don’t like it!
If you need permission to DNF, then I, in my terribly untrustworthy status as non-practicing librarian, give you permission to set that book down. You don’t even need a reason! It’s okay!
And if it’s a super duper popular book that everyone else loved and you hated? Don’t force yourself to read it (unless it turns into a hate read, in which case, go for it I won’t hold you back those reviews are hilarious). Put it down. Pick up something you want to read. And if that doesn’t work? Pick up something else.
*Again, if you’re in school, sucks for you. But read in your free time if you can?
Takeaways on my pet peeves
They are purely my opinion and I am a crusty curmudgeon with no sense of humor.
Don’t let anyone else tell you what you are, or that you need to have read X book or read Y amount per year, or read Z format, or subscribe to B bookbox or get free shit from publishers to be considered a reader.
If you consider yourself a reader, you’re a reader.
It’s that fucking simple.
Read what you want, and read for joy.